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Driver's Education in Iowa

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Driver's Education in Iowa

Most new drivers in Iowa are required to successfully complete a State-approved driver's education program in order to obtain an Iowa driver's license. In fact, for many applicants, the driver's education certificate of completion is part of the actual driver's license application.


  • Iowa residents under the age of 17 must hold a learner's permit for a minimum of six months, and also complete a State-approved driver's education program before applying for a new license.
  • Iowa residents 17 and older who have never held a license from Iowa or any other US state or foreign country, must complete a State-approved driver's education program or 10 hours of supervised driving (of which only 2 are between sunrise and sunset) before applying for a new license.


Driver's education courses are offered through both public and private school programs, all of which must be approved by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Driving schools, licensed by the Department of Transportation, cover the same course content.


While driver's education courses vary from one school to another, all licensed programs must include the following components:

  • Thirty hours of classroom hours focusing on issues including 4 hours of alcohol safety and drug abuse awareness, defensive driving, motorcycle awareness, 20 minutes of railroad crossing safety, and organ and tissue donation.
  • 6 hours of in-car instruction sessions including 3 hours driving experience behind the wheel (there must be no parental waiver on this time) and 3 hours on simulators.

After the successful completion of the driver's education course, your driving school will a send a copy of the completion certificate to the Iowa Department of Transportation, after which you may be issued a permanent driver's license. Drivers under the age of 18 must have their certificate signed and authorized by a parent or legal guardian, who must certify that the student has had at least 10 hours of driving practice, including at least 8 evening or nighttime hours.


In addition to the core requirements of a driver's education course, many driving schools in Iowa offer optional programs that focus on particular aspects of driver education. Specialized courses include Auto Insurance Discount Courses or Defensive Driving courses, either of which may qualify students for a discount on auto insurance. These and other courses may also enable students to reduce points on their license, and/or get their license back sooner after a suspension. See our section on Iowa driving schools for more information.